The college hopes of more than 110,000 California elementary and secondary school children hang in the balance under the Governor’s new budget proposal that would eliminate all state funding for University of California Outreach funding that has for years been the lifeline for disadvantaged students seeking to enter college.
On the heels of a 50 percent cut that took place earlier this year, the Governor’s budget would take away the remaining $12.2 million from UC Outreach programs, effective January 1. The budget cuts would also similarly end funding for California State University outreach programs.
Although UC’s Department of Educational Outreach comprises less than one percent of the University’s budget, it supports roughly 28 UC programs and 650 UC staff who provide direct academic and college preparatory assistance for more than 110,000 K-12 students statewide. Students served by these programs typically come from low-income families, and attend educationally underserved schools where college prep services are virtually nonexistent and college-going rates far below state norms. Many of these students would also be the first in their family to ever attend college.
Among those UC Outreach programs that would be drastically affected is the Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP). Begun in 1975 and currently serving more than 85,000 students at 600 middle school and high school students statewide, EAOP is among the oldest and largest college preparatory services in the UC system. Its program at the University of California, San Diego serves some 15,000 students at 72 schools throughout San Diego and Imperial Counties.
This includes, South Bay: 4,182 students at 18 schools; San Diego’s Central Region (including East County): 4,298 students at 29 schools; North County: 1,580 students at 18 schools; the Imperial Valley: 4,797 students at 24 schools (including 7 elementary schools), and 152 students at 3 schools at American Indian reservations in San Diego County. Since EAOP was initiated at UCSD nearly 30 years ago, tens of thousands of students have progressed through the program, gone on to college, and ultimately, to successful careers.
But if the state has its way, EAOP, and programs like it, will disappear. Gone will be the EAOP academic advisors who visit the schools and work with students individually and in small groups, helping them prepare for college. Gone, too, will be the EAOP-sponsored trips to college and university campuses, the intensive courses in math and science, the on-campus summer residential programs, preparation for the rigorous SAT and ACT college entrance exams, and the informational workshops on financial aid and college admissions requirements for students and their parents all vital links to college success.
One might ask: How effective is outreach in preparing low-income students for college? Is it worth the money expended? Statistics demonstrate it is. For example figures clearly show that EAOP high school students are twice as likely to complete the demanding A-G coursework required for college than their non-EAOP peers, and last year alone, nearly one-third of all EAOP seniors were UC-eligible, not to mention all those eligible for CSU’s or community colleges. In fact, nearly half of those seniors went on to enroll in a state college or university with 17 percent at the University of California, 16 percent at a California State University campus, and 15 percent at a community college.
In addition, college prep assistance acquired in middle school and high school helps EAOP students remain in college until graduation, statistics suggest: of those EAOP students who entered UC as freshmen in 1998, more than 81 percent were still attending and working toward their degrees after three years compared to 80 percent of all freshmen who entered that year.
Each and every California students has the right to a quality college education, and EAOP, like all other UC Outreach programs, is proud of its long, successful history of working with parents, schools and the community to prepare low-income students for their college futures. Systematically eradicating these programs will send a powerful message to students, parents and low-income communities, alike, that the great State of California does not share either this pride or this priority.
We ask individuals who care about education to voice their opposition to the proposed cuts by writing the Governor and their state representatives today.
Early Academic Outreach Program
University of California, San Diego
Loren C. Thompson, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor
Student Educational Advancement
University of California, San Diego